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Employee Benefits Specialist

An Employee Benefits Specialist is in charge of the enrollment and administration of a company's compensation and benefits programs, including health insurance and pension plans. The position is usually part of a larger Human Resources Department. A specialist handles payroll deductions for 401(k) plans, maintains group health insurance for employees taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and addresses and resolves benefits-related inquiries and claims. An Employee Benefits Specialist's duties cover a wide range of human resources activity.

Expert Knowledge of an Employee Benefits Specialist

Employee Benefits Specialists must be knowledgeable about federal laws governing compensation and benefits plans. In addition to FMLA, these include the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and ERISA amendments such as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). As the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA or ACA) undergoes implementation, Employee Benefits Specialists are learning to navigate its various provisions. Although state laws vary, an Employee Benefits Specialist must ensure the company's compliance with applicable rules, regulations, and statutes.

Education and Training Background of an Employee Benefits Specialist

A bachelor's degree in human resources or business administration will help prepare you for a career as an Employee Benefits Specialist. Even though an employer might not require a Master of Business Administration degree, an MBA can help set you apart from other candidates. Some specialists pursue special designation through the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist program of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Prior human resources work experience is beneficial. Job history as a paralegal in an ERISA law firm or similar experience may also give you the necessary skills to succeed as an Employee Benefits Specialist.

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